Passion (R)

Suspense/Thriller 105 August 30, 2013
By Alan Scherstuhl
Passion, unleashed at long last, turns out to be like one of those core samples scientists used to take out of glaciers, the air of long-gone eras in a preserved sequence. Here's a parodic women-in-the-boardroom melodrama, the principals color-coded-- blonde (Rachel McAdams), brunette (Noomi Rapace), redhead (Karoline Herfurth)-- and love-triangled, each dominant for one act of the film, and each given to swapping personalities. Here's quaint corporate backstabbery whose specifics are so vague, so risible, that you half-expect the movie to pull back and reveal that this has all been some oddly well-shot afternoon soap. Here's an expression of concern that what we mostly see in our lives are screens, often screens showing screens, except for those moments when we're staring into cameras-- you know, during sex. Here’s once outréŽ bedroom gear-- a red-licorice strap-on, a string of anal beads as chromed and wide as trailer hitches-- in a film that's less sexually explicit than most cable TV shows. Here's a bravura split-screen sequence recalling Dressed to Kill in its pairing of high art and kinky stalking. Here's '90s Cinema's idea of lesbianism, and some sexy saxophone pillow music (from Pino Donaggio) that sounds like the tears of a Nagel print. And here at last-- a little later than would be ideal-- is a '70s De Palma murder, and then the wee brunette with the dry-crackle voice sinks into the drugged-out plot of Steven Soderbergh's Side Effects. Then comes a final third of fakeouts upon fakeouts, scenes where director Brian De Palma, like some grand old pop star, seems to be greatest hits-ing us. You know what's wrong with that? Nothing.
Brian De Palma Rachel McAdams, Noomi Rapace, Paul Anderson, Karoline Herfurth, Rainer Bock, Leila Rozario, Ian T. Dickinson Brian De Palma Saïd Ben Saïd Entertainment One

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